Dr. Alexander Smith

Bild von Alexander Smith

Internationales Kolleg für Geisteswissenschaftliche Forschung "Schicksal, Freiheit und Prognose. Bewältigungsstrategien in Ostasien und Europa"
Hartmannstr. 14
91052 Erlangen

Home Institution: École Pratique des Hautes Études, East Asian Civilizations Research Center (CRCAO)

IKGF Visiting Fellow September 2017 – February 2018

IKGF Visiting Fellow November 2019 – May 2020

IKGF Research Project:

Rope, Silver, and Lapis: The Unique Mythology and Prognostic Technique of ju thig

Curriculum Vitae

I received an MPhil in Tibetan studies from Oxford University in 2010. Having specialized in Classical and Modern Tibetan, I then pursued a PhD as a member of the member of the École pratique des hautes études (EPHE, Paris), where I focused on the study of Bon ritual and divinatory manuscripts. During my time as a member of the EPHE, I was fortunate enough to be awarded a three-year doctoral grant (Contrat doctorale ED 472), which allowed me to conduct extensive doctoral fieldwork in Tibetophone communities in North India. After completing my PhD in December 2016, I was awarded a post-doctoral research fellowship with the International Consortium for Research in the Humanities (IKGF), where I expanded my work on Tibetan divination systems and completed my first monograph, Divination in Exile: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Ritual Prognostication in Tibetan Buddhism. Following my post-doctoral work with the IKGF, I worked for two years as the Deputy Professor of Social Anthropology in the Bavarian Elite Network's Standards of Decision-Making Across Cultures (SDAC) program at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. In addition to leading courses in social anthropology, ethnographic methods, academic writing, and visual anthropology, I worked extensively in international academic administration. With regard to my research, I am interested in expanding my previous work in the anthropology of divination and Tibetan ritual; however, my current research axis focuses on the study of diasporic identity through the lens of religious transformation in the contemporary Tibetan exile community in Europe.

Selected Publications


2019 "Prognosis, prophylaxis, and trumps: comparative remarks on several common forms of Tibetan cleromancy", in: The Place of Mantic Practices in the Organization of Knowledge. Leiden: Brill, pp. 181-97 (forthcoming).
2019 "May the Curd of g.Yang Mature: a 14th-Century Allegory for the Domestication of Sheep", in: Reflections on Social Status in the Tibetan World. Proceedings of two conferences of the Franco-German project 'Social Status in the Tibetan World' (=Revue d'Études Tibétaines 49), pp. 258-270.
2017 "Résumés de thèses « Alexander K. Smith, lde'u ‘phrul, la manifestation de la connaissance : étude ethno-philologique sur la divination tibétaine avec un intérêt particulier pour une forme commune de la lithomancie Bon »", in: Études mongoles et sibériennes, centrasiatiques et tibétaines 48 (4 pages).
2015 "Prognostic Structure and the Use of Trumps in Tibetan Pebble Divination", in: Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 10/1, pp. 1-21.
2014 "No More Bad Dreams: Divination and Client Therapy", in: Tibetan and Himalayan Healing: An Anthology for Anthony Aris, ed. by Charles Ramble and Ulrike Roesler, Kathmandu: Vajra Publications, pp. 651-660.
2013 "lDe'u 'phrul, the Manifestation of Knowledge: Ethnophilological Studies in the Field of Tibetan Divination with Particular Emphasis upon a Common Form of Bon Lithomancy", in: Societas Magica Newsletter 29, pp. 2-5.
2011 "Remarks Concerning the Methodology and Symbolism of Bon Pebble Divination", in: Études Mongoles & Sibériennes, Centralaisatiques & Tibétaines 42.